It’s been an impressive lifespan for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, a reflection of the very generation itself. While the 7th gen not only served as the longest in gaming history, it also introduced to the medium to many, now vital new ideas such as DLC and patching games in post-launch. Indeed, it’s a testament to the longevity of that generation, both gaming consoles, and the many successful games it produced that we’re still stuck calling the 8th generation “next-gen” – because the 7th generation hasn’t entirely let go.
Almost a year now since the launch of both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, and yet not only do the 360 and PS3 continue to receive support from their respective companies, but so many new titles are still being released cross-gen. So much so that it’s not entirely certain when exactly new games won’t be releasing for the PS3 and 360. No matter how many consoles of the next-gen hardware are sold, they’re still dwarfed by the immense number of gamers that reliably own and cling to their beloved 7th-gen systems.
It’s easier, perhaps, to look back on older transitions in retrospect, as hindsight gives a somewhat clearer view of how things entirely occurred. Back in 2006 and 2007, when we were all working out from the 6th generation into the 7th generation, there were still a great many uncertainties. Like our current circumstances, that transition was a slow one – arguably lasting well over a year – but due more to starkly different circumstances. Those being the release of the 360 well before the PS3, and the very important presence of the Wii.
Even so, it took a while for the 7th generation to really get itself going. The 360 was dogged by hardware issues in its early months – with users reporting the infamous Red Ring of Death. The PS3 limped poorly out of the gate, hindered greatly by its enormous price tag. The Wii was a huge hit no one saw coming, but even it took a while to produce quality titles that appealed to more than just the casual crowd.
In fact, it could be argued that it wasn’t well into 2007 – well over a year after the release of the first 7th-generation system – that the latest and greatest really started to show themselves. Indeed, 2007 alone can boast a myriad of bold new titles that came to define not only the generation itself, but also revolutionize gaming. With new franchises in Uncharted, Nintendo’s daring new take on a classic in Super Mario Galaxy, the release of the original BioShock, and BioWare’s first-in-a-trilogy in Mass Effect, we truly saw the first indications of the newest generation taking over. Out with the old, and in with the game-changing future.
Fast forward seven years, and not only is the 7th generation still going strong, but the field has also dramatically altered. It’s difficult to compare the transition periods because they occurred for different reasons: this time around, it’s due as much to the strength of the 360 and PS3 as anything else. And while Nintendo’s Wii U launched a year before anyone else – much like the 360 – the system is so out of the discussion in vying for relevance with Sony and Microsoft that pretty much no one would claim the start of 8th gen came with its release.
So the question is, when does the newest generation actually begin? Or has it already and perhaps we haven’t noticed? The primary motivator behind this question being, when is the next time to go next-gen? With almost a year now to each console’s lifespan, when is it the best time for gamers who haven’t already purchased to put down the cash for an Xbox One or PS4?
One of the problems here is that, not only are titles still being released for last-gen (even if only concurrently), but that really hasn’t been all that much in the way of great for our newest consoles. Indeed, much of the tale to be told from those who have purchased is that the system spends time gathering dust while said gamer logs in multiple hours on their older hardware.
Sure, there have been a handful of exclusives. The PS4 has Killzone: Shadow Fall and a couple more entries to expand out the moderately successful Infamous series. But are either alone reason enough to own a new system? One of the appeals of owning the 360 and/or the PS3 is that both have an immense library, with such a wealth of gaming that even the hardiest of fans could go months – or years – without running out of new titles, albeit if they come to the system uninitiated.
We finally got Destiny – the MMO shooter with such stellar advance reviews and concept art to make even non-FPS or Halo fans flush with excitement.
But putting aside that game’s somewhat disappointed reception upon release, there’s just the basic fact that there hasn’t been enough. This accounts for three total titles in the last year that might make a system worth buying – but a system should be worth buying for more than just three or four games.
It’s perhaps somewhat disappointing, then, in comparison to where we stood a year after the launch of the PS3. Where the Uncharteds and the BioShocks were already rocking our respective gaming worlds, pointing very dramatically to the exciting new directions the newest generation would take us.
Perhaps this could somewhat be blamed then on the success of the PS3 and the 360. A year on, and we’re still seeing as much love for them as our newest consoles. But hopefully we’ll see that all change soon; as fantastic an era as it’s been, it’s also soon time that we let the 8th generation stop being “next” and start being “this.”
On the immense plus side, 2015 already looks promising – arguably somewhat more so than 2014 did going in. The PS4 alone is due for titles like Bloodborne, The Order: 1886, and the next Uncharted. To say nothing of cross-gen in Assassin’s Creed: Unity and whatever else Bungie does with Destiny next, or how Ubisoft could seek out greater potential with new IPs like Watch Dogs.
So we’re not there yet; but the day should soon be coming. The day when that PS4 or Xbox One stop acting as a part-time paperweight and instead become the full-fledged current-gen systems that we as gamers all hope they will become.